Inside, Houston reception may have provided a temporary respite to Prime Minister Modi for avoiding to hear any reference to Kashmir’s situation but it is almost impossible for him to ignore all together during his week long visit to the US. Outside the “Howdy, Modi” event, he faced some 30,000 plus Asian Americans of Kashmiri, Indian and Pakistani origin to remind the world all is not well with Modi government chanting slogans of “Go Modi, Go” taking off “Howdy Modi” Event’s sheen.
The west’s unprecedented human rights diplomacy is already adding to the frustration of Delhi as it has manifested itself at various forums increasingly addressing IOK situation confronting the Modi government’s handling post – Article 370 abrogation. Since democracy, human rights and rule of law are bread and better issue to European democracies and notionally second order foreign policy priority to the US, recent rumbling with regards to IOK is clearly discernible making no longer possible for India to look the other way.
Acknowledging Pakistan’s sensitivity on IOK, President Trump, who is scheduled to meet PM Imran Khan, will again likely to talk about human rights situation and offer his mediation role, to Indian chagrin—as all utterances by Mr Trump repeating his potential mediatory role on IOK does not serve the traditional narrative of India and hence is against Delhi’s national interest.
EU Parliament and earlier the pronouncement of UNHRC came as no less than a shock for Delhi which expected a meek response, though.
Now add to this the clever diplomatic move of Pakistan pulling off meeting of PM Imran Khan with HR lobbies on the UNGA sidelines, joining forces with the likes of Amnesty International against India.
The weight of the reports of these bodies censuring Delhi for its brutalities in IOK, simply annoys the Indian political establishment who has never been exposed to public criticism at such a level. For years, Delhi’s narrative of blaming Pakistan for what is going in IOK, was a smoke screen the world bought in and believed in and hence let India off the hook for its unbecoming conduct in IOK.
However, this myth no longer holds credence. And worse, the soft image of India as a land of yoga and Ayurveda, billed as the largest democracy, has been dented severely by Hindutva government serving its ties with the soft Gandhian India once the world knew.
The world is also slowly realising the religious pluralism in India—once it took pride on to distinguish itself from other countries, including China—particularly in IOK and North East has died.
Modi government may think into believing that the US does not care for it(Delhi)’s human rights abuses in IOK and it has only commercial interests in larger Indian market. However, this belief misunderstands the US and the West in general and exaggerate the significance of India for the west.
Yes, foreign policies of western democracies do ignore human rights violations largely for strategic and commercial values but it is not the presence of of insignificant indian diaspora or the lure of Indian markets that has raised the profile of India—its the belief among the western elite and common people that India shares principles of equality before the law, tolerance of minority communities and is a democracy etc.
With the tolerance for religious pluralism gone, Hindutva Ideology capturing its soul, India is increasingly finding itself diminished as a democratic alternative to China and Russia in the imagination of the western world.
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